Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Find out if you're an IdahoIC

| May 7, 2021 1:00 AM

I didn’t know what Inland Northwesterners thought of Californians until it was too late.

I was unloading our U-Haul into a rental in the East North section of Kalispell, Mont., when a new neighbor said: “Don’t let anyone around here know you’re from California.”

Steve Johnson was hooking up my washer as he spoke.

“Folks around here use ‘Californian’ as a curse word,” he added.

It was June 28, 1977, and Mrs. O and I were fresh from California’s Central Valley. I had accepted a job as news editor of Duane Hagadone’s Daily Inter Lake. We were 1,000 miles from home.

“You’ll get along if you don’t pull any dirty California tricks,” the helpful neighbor said.

“What’s a dirty California trick?” I asked.

“You know,” he replied and left.

Later, over dinner at the Black Angus Restaurant, I muttered to my wife, “We’re going to be hated.”

A server empathized.

Many of the people in the Flathead Valley are from somewhere else, she said. She referred to herself as an “MIO,” her acronym for “Montana Improved Okie.” She and her husband had moved north to Montana eight years before. Soon, she predicted, Mrs. O and I would become “MontanICs,” or “Montana Improved Californians.”

I tried my best to become a MontanIC.

I worked hard to produce a quality paper for my new town. My wife and I bought a starter home. We survived the harsh winters. We had our first child. We joined a church. I became a Kiwanian.

Five years later, in 1982, we moved to Idaho. Montana had improved us. Idaho has, too.

And Idaho will improve you future IdahoICs out there, IF you don’t pull “dirty California tricks.”

And what is a “dirty California trick”?

You know.

35 years & counting

Steve Widmyer remembers the excitement as 20,106 toured The Coeur d’Alene: A Resort on the Lake on Sunday, May 4, 1986. Partners Duane Hagadone and Jerry Jaeger were hosting an open house for the community. And it was all hands on deck. Steve, then controller of the new resort, and wife, Marie, led tours for 12 hours that day. “We enjoyed every minute,” Mayor Widmyer told Huckleberries this week. The $60 million resort had closed on Jan. 1, 1986, to complete the overhaul of Bob Templin’s old North Shore Resort Hotel. Some stood in line for hours to take the 75-minute tour. At the end, the proud partners greeted them with handshakes. Duane told this reporter prior to the open house that the resort would “become a landmark in the Inland Empire for many, many years.” He was right, of course. Hagadone, who died April 24, and his resort changed Coeur d’Alene forever. The resort will remain the piece de resistance of his legacy for many, many more years.


• Poet’s Corner: Blooming flowers/and soft spring breezes,/fresh green trees and/allergy sneezes – The Bard of Sherman Avenue (“May”).

• The first event in the Coeur d’Alene Resort Convention Center 35 years ago was the chamber’s Awesome Auction, recalls former chamber manager Sandy Emerson. It was a smashing success, despite the blemishes left on the new carpet by spilled red wine.

• Bumpersnicker: Hand-written on a temporary plate of a Toyota C-HR, sold at Parker Toyota: “Not from California. Don’t Tailgate.”

• On Uno de Mayo, Dick Haugen, KVNI’s former Voice of North Idaho, was surprised to awaken to birthday wishes on his Facebook page. His 66th birthday falls on May 25. Worse yet, Facebook insists that Dick is now 99. Since social media is never wrong, we can all agree that Dick looks good for a man approaching 100.

• At 10 p.m. Monday, Rose Backs of Coeur d’Alene heard a small engine whir nearby. Who was mowing or weed eating at that hour, she asked herself. She checked the house. Nothing. Then, she heard the sound again. Above her head. She looked up. It was a ginormous stink bug. Shaken, she now wishes it had been an oddball neighbor mowing the lawn at that strange hour.

Parting Shot

With summer approaching again, Huckleberries flashes back to COVID Summer 2020. Phil and Mary Tumminello of Rathdrum are out in their pontoon boat on Spirit Lake, watching rookie skiers slam into the water. One spills a short distance away. And his boat is overdue to fetch him. The Tumminellos idle over and offer help. Do you want to get in? Mary asks. The skier hesitates. But then reconsiders. He prepares to climb aboard the USS Tumminello. But before he does so, Mary asks, “Are you a Republican or a Democrat?” Mary is joking. But, in ruby red North Idaho, you can’t be sure.

• • • 

D.F. “Dave” Oliveria can be contacted at dfo@cdapress.com.

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